Who would Jesus vote for? This is a common refrain among conservative and liberal Christians alike. The short answer is: I don’t think we can put a political sign up in Jesus’ yard just yet. I think it would be pretty unfair to align Jesus with our own institutions and force Him to be a puppet in our democracy when He didn’t even bother with politics during His own lifetime. Jesus was pretty clear. He respected government, and wanted us to respect government in turn. What Jesus promoted was forward thinking toward His own spiritual reign, so quite honestly, I’m sure He would scoff at 21st century arguments on whether He would cast a vote for Trump or Hillary.
I think, though, there is actually a way to take a stand and apply Jesus principals to our lives today without spouting that “Jesus wants America great again,” or that “Jesus is with her.” (But, would Jesus really have supported a tax-avoidant, racist, demagogue? I digress.) We skirt a risky line by cherry-picking passages that promote Jesus as either a capitalist or socialist, too. It’s safe to say that no candidate will ever fit Christ’s exact ideals because we are all human. But it’s what we choose to do with the political climate we are given that is crucial.
Let’s take a few of Jesus’ stories for example. When the prodigal son came home, he was still given his part of the inheritance (much to the disdain of the brother who had been doing everything right for his whole life) When the the vineyard owner gave his workers all the same wage (the ones who had toiled all day, and those who had been there for only a few hours,) the laborers definitely moaned and groaned. The goody-goody, always-played-by-the-rules, person inside us all wants to kick and scream and shout “unfair!” But when is God’s benevolence ever deserved? Jesus said to the criminal who hung beside Him on the cross “today you’ll be with me in paradise.” Talk about last minute. Does the criminal get less love, grace, and mercy simply because his realizations were later in life? God’s grace is sufficient for all. It’s not measured out based on our shortcomings or what we are able to offer.
All that said, it obvious that Jesus’ teachings promote a more inclusive and progressive policy of living while refuting excess. Take John’s statement in Luke for example: John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Albeit promotion for minimalism or democratic socialism, statements and stories like these are based solely on the idea of socialism being volunteered and not mandated. But may I remind you that the vineyard laborers all received, what proved at that time in history to be, a living wage. What would be so awful about institutions promoting justice, equality, and fairness? We obviously aren’t doing our part to see that those less fortunate are fully taken care of. Let your mind wander to the ideals I wish would align with our political scene.
Until that happens, live the stories Jesus taught. Because, at the end of the day, religion and politics are oftentimes like oil and water. There are too many sects, too many opinions, too many disagreements. Until then, make a nice vinaigrette with it all, and live like Jesus. And don’t be afraid to admit that He was a pretty liberal dude.